|Carl Franz Bally
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Carl Franz Bally was born in Schonenwed, Switzerland in 1821. He was the son of a silk ribbon weaver, and together with his brother had taken over the family business in 1847. Carl Franz expanded the company to include an elastic tape that was used by shoemakers.
While on a business trip in Paris in 1850, Bally he was fascinated by a pair of subtly decorated slippers he found for his wife. He bought several pairs of different styles and later started to manufacture his own collections in his factory.
In 1951 together with his brother Carl founded “Bally&Co”, hiring a German shoemaker, who worked in the basement of his own home. Initially the shoes were entirely handmade, but manufacturing process was based on the division of labor. Just 3 years after the shoe production was started in 1854 a factory was built in the centre of the village and later when his brother Fritz left the business Carl Franz Bally founds the company “C.F.Bally”. Shortly first shops were opened in Bern, Basle and Zurich and exports to South America began.
In the 1860s the factory was enlarged to accommodate over 500 workers. First sewing machines and steam machines were introduced resulting in increased productivity. In 1868 a new elastic ribbon factory was build by Bally. It required the construction of a water channel to power water-driven turbine for the MacKay sole sewing machine. This was the start of mechanization of the production process, which was almost entirely mechanized by the end of the 1870s, with all the latest advances in technology from the UK and the USA, introduced at the factory by Franz’s son Edward after his trips to these countries.
Thanks the quality of the material, excellent finish and refined decoration Bally shoes at the end of the century stood for luxury and the company was occupying the leading position in Europe. New agencies were opened in Barcelona, Cairo, Vienna, Hamburg, Lisbon, Marseille and Sofia. In 1881 the first Bally shop was opened in London’s most fashionable street New Bond Street.
Ten years later, in 1892 Carl Franz Bally handed the company over to his sons. “C.F. Bally and Sons” was entering the last decade of the 19th century with two millions pairs of shoes produced annually. Carl Franz Bally – the founder of the company died in 1898 but his son continued the business.
Economic boom of the 1900s and free trade helped the company to build up important markets in France, Germany, Austria and Italy. In 1907 Bally went public, with the majority of shares owned by the family members. The company continued to grow. Building new tanneries, shoe factories and stores. Even the First World War did not affect Bally, as it was supplying military shoes to the French, German and Swiss armies.
In the twenties C.F. Bally AG was established as a holding company with five separate divisions for retail, wholesale, production, tannery and real estate. Later a retail company Bally Arola AG was founded as a separate entity.
Bally survived the world depression of the 30s and WWII restrictions and limitations by using different materials like rubber, cork, wood and straw and later diversifying its production to include shoes for every occasion: work, leisure and sport.
In the boom years of the 50s Bally was rapidly expanding and could only satisfy the demand by spreading out its operations to South Africa, Brazil and Belgium. Further diversification into several industries specialized in rubber, glues and other chemicals was a result of the market saturation in the 60s due to cheap imports and exports decline. In 1976 Bally adds handbags and other leather accessories to the shoe line.
Successfully growing through the difficult 80s, when Bally product was compromised because of improper distribution and quality problems, caused by inappropriate licensing, Bally regains its global luxury brand image in the 90s. In 1999 Bally was sold to the Texas Pacific Group, which launched a new strategy to reposition the company. The 150th anniversary, which was celebrated by the company in 2001, has met Bally as one of the leaders of the world luxury market, with new stores being opened in China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Nepal, Brazil, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and Russia. A new show room was open in the European fashion capital Milan in 2003 for the convenience of the press and buyers during fashion weeks and presentation of collections.
Today Bally prides itself in about 200 mono-brand stores around the globe and plans to go ahead with new shops opening in Sydney, Shanghai, Taipei, Dusseldorf and Beverly Hills.
The love for shoes have led the Bally family to begin collecting shoes back in the 19th century – the passion, which resulted in setting up the Bally Shoe Museum in Schonenwerd, Switzerland, where they have gathered the most extensive collection of historical boots and shoes ever seen under one roof.Some of the Bally brands
Advert for Bally men's shoes. Model James Bond 007. | Advertising page for Bally shoes. | Advertising page for Bally shoes. | Advertising page for Bally shoes, L'Illustration, 1928. | Advertising page for Bally shoe brand.